The process of assigning IHIs by DHS has worked well for the majority of the population. There are unresolved issues around assignment of identifiers for newborns, and the use of provisional and unverified IHIs. While functionality for assigning newborn identifiers was deployed in April 2013 additional work is required to clarify how this functionality will align with local business processes. While it is noted that progress has been made on these issues there needs to be greater stakeholder engagement in confirming this functionality in the context of local processes and in the development of a policy framework and guidelines to support the implementation of this capability. Resolution of these issues needs to be a priority as these impact on key registration processes for health services and if not effective and practical will negatively affect adoption.
The assignment process for individual Healthcare Provider Identifiers - Individual (HPI-Is) managed by AHPRA is effective. Healthcare providers were notified of their Healthcare Identifier at the time their identifier was assigned. However, the delay between assignment and implementation of systems requiring these identifiers has caused issues as at the time the HPI-I was assigned most providers had little understanding of when and how this number would be used. Now that there are uses for the HPI-I many providers do not remember their identifier and are not clear about the mechanism to retrieve it.
AHPRA does not assign identifiers to all providers, only those covered by AHPRA legislation. These include professionals covered by the following Boards:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
- Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
- Chiropractic Board of Australia
- Dental Board of Australia
- Medical Board of Australia
- Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
- Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
- Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
- Optometry Board of Australia
- Osteopathy Board of Australia
- Pharmacy Board of Australia
- Physiotherapy Board of Australia
- Podiatry Board of Australia
- Psychology Board of Australia.
HPI-Is are assigned to other providers by DHS on application. Maintaining two mechanisms for registration creates an additional overhead on the HI Service as two organisations need resources, processes and systems in place to manage functions such as assignment of numbers, changes to registrations, communication to providers and data quality functions, such as checking for duplicates (e.g. a provider allocated an identifier by both DHS and AHPRA). This would be streamlined by consolidating the management of provider identifiers within AHPRA. It is noted that this would require amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and changes to internal systems and processes within AHPRA. As AHPRA is funded through provider registrations, an alternative source of funding would need to be identified to fund changes to systems to meet any additional HI Service requirements.
The process of assigning Healthcare Provider Identifiers for organisations has been identified as a substantial barrier to participation. The process is difficult and time consuming to navigate and there are a number of unresolved policy issues relating to Seed and Network structures that are impacting registration (see section 3.4.2). It is noted that NEHTA have recently developed a guide to assist organisations to determine appropriate structures.
Recommendation 9 – Newborn, unverified and provisional IHIs
It is recommended that functionality, business processes and policy to assign and resolve newborn, unverified and provisional IHIs should be validated with stakeholders and implemented as a priority.
Recommendation 10 – Assignment of Provider HPI-Is
It is recommended that AHMAC consider transitioning all provider Healthcare Identifier (HPI-I) registration functions to AHPRA to standardise and streamline provider registration and associated information management processes.